When you’re the third generation in a family business, you might think you could rest on your laurels, a little bit.
At the young age of 25, Allen Justice can attest that you’d be wrong about that.
As the owner of Justice Sealcoating, based in Dagsboro, he is the grandson of Paul Justice, founder of Paul’s Sand and Gravel, and the son of Mike Justice, who took over that business in 1998.
His father changed the business focus and rebranded it as Paul’s Paving and Excavating. Allen was part of that from a very young age – “as soon as I was old enough to hold a shovel,” he said, “when I was about 7.”
A 2013 graduate of Indian River High school and part of that year’s (2012) state football championship team, Allen went on to Castleton University in Vermont on a full football scholarship, majoring in business.
He said he always knew he wanted to work for himself, “being the headstrong person I am.” He said he felt a business degree would give him that freedom and the expertise he would need in today’s ever-changing business environment.
Growing up, he said, he saw how his parents and grandparents were able to devote more time to their families than some of his friends whose parents worked in more structured jobs.
Now married to his high-school sweetheart, Rachel, and the father of 11-month-old Audrey, he said he realizes more than ever how important that freedom will be to him over the years.
Allen started Justice Sealcoating three years ago after graduating from college. “I bet on myself,” he said.
Coming back home after four years in New England, he said, gave him a new appreciation for his home and for the business opportunities it offers. “It’s a good market to get into,” he said, especially with the growth in residential development in the past 20 years or so.
In addition to new developments, Allen said maintenance of existing projects, both residential and commercial, are keeping him busy. While he was slightly hesitant to admit it, he said his business hasn’t suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses whose parking lots aren’t as busy as they normally are have been taking the opportunity to reseal and restripe them, he said.
“It’s been a nice year so far,” Allen said, adding that being able to work outside has been an advantage during the COVID-19 health crisis.
He said he gets a kick out of the fact that his father and grandfather paved some of the parking lots he now maintains, such as the one at the Dagsboro Volunteer Fire Company he recently completed.
Looking to cooler weather with fall approaching, Allen said most winters, he can still offer many services, including stonework, drainage work and backfilling of lots. Paving can still be done as long as the temperature stays above 40 degrees, he said. Below that, the sealcoat material won’t cure properly.
While he does have a website and a Facebook page, Allen said much of his business comes through signs he posts at job sites, word of mouth, and returning customers.
“It worked for my dad and my grandfather,” he said. “I got the good family name,” he added. “But I have to deliver. Just because you got a good name, doesn’t mean things got handed to you.”
Having come home to Sussex County, the “seventh-generation Delmarvan” said he is hopeful about his peers being able to carve out their own niches as business owners. “It’s good to see people my age starting the next generation,” he said.
Now that he has two trucks with his business name on the side, one of which boasts state of the art sealcoating equipment, he is happy to say that his equipment is paid off and he has two other people working with him.
He said he is grateful for the support of his family as he took the reins of the business, which allowed his dad, Mike, to retire. “I had a lot of help” getting started,” he said. “No one can say they did it totally by themselves.”
For more information on Justice Sealcoating, call (302) 200-1007 or visit the company’s web site, www.justicesealcoating.com.